If you can’t hear that train a’coming, don’t blame Johnny Cash. Blame the railway workers’ strike that could effectively shut down interstate commerce just as the holiday season begins.
The strike could lead to further supply chain disruptions. It’s not just the consumer goods that drive Black Friday and beyond; it’s also the fuel that powers nearly our entire electrical grid.
Coal is predominantly transported via rail to power plants and ports, but diesel fuel, oil, and propane are just some of the other products that are hauled by trains. Almost 40 percent of our long-distance interstate commerce travels by train. Just the possibility of a strike is increasing uncertainty and the prices of multiple products.
We don’t talk a lot about trains anymore, even though they remain necessary in the transportation of goods. In fact, we don’t hear about them at all unless our supply of energy is interrupted. That’s the whole problem with the climate cult. Its members want to get rid of affordable and reliable energy but then don’t want our modern lives to end as we know them.
I was just in Wyoming to visit North America’s largest coal mine. The trip from my home in Texas took just a few hours by plane and rental car; if my ancestors were making the trek, they would have walked for months—before the advent of trains and modern transportation.
This preindustrial reality is what we could face if we allow the virtue-signaling globalists to use the strike as an opportunity to scold us about not going 100 percent renewable to save the earth.
Yet if we ask the woke scolds if they’re ready to give up air travel, the autonomy of automobiles, and things such as reliable electricity, they’re dumbfounded. They want all their current privileges to continue to exist without the energy needed to power them. And their unreliable, inadequate “alternatives” would be destructive. Solar panels and wind farms would go in every direction as far as the eye could see.
So what about coal?
Coal lies a few hundred feet below the surface. Miners move the land, retrieve the coal, and then start a process called reclamation. Miners put back the land that they moved to get the coal and make sure the land surface is regraded properly, the topsoil is stable, and the vegetation meets all requirements. They plant trees that are native to the area. This reclamation happens simultaneously with the mining.
Luminant reclaimed a mine in East Texas. And it did such a good job that “when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was looking to repopulate Texas with the beloved eastern wild turkey, it chose the retired Oak Hill Mine at Martin Lake. A total of 80 turkeys were brought to Rusk County and released,” according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph. The turkeys are thriving now.
Still, the demonization of coal over the past couple of decades is taking its toll. You would think Wyoming would be an awful place to visit since more than 70 percent of its electricity is generated from coal—but Wyoming is one of the most naturally beautiful places on the face of the earth.
And yet the employees at the mine I visited face an uncertain future. We have 400 years’ worth of coal reserves—that we know about. Will it be used? Or will those who think they know best be the demise of human flourishing? The coal-fired power plant in Arizona that the Texas Public Policy Foundation covered in 2018 is now shuttered. Jobs and opportunities are gone with it. More letdowns for the Navajo people. All that demonization is rooted in one thing: a cult-like fascination with “decarbonizing” our planet. The climate cult doesn’t talk about harmful pollution, just carbon dioxide, which is necessary for abundant life.
There are 250 families that are dependent on the Wyoming mine I visited being a sustainable company. And by sustainable, I mean profitable. I should correct myself, however: It’s not just the 250 families, it’s the more than 300 million Americans who are dependent on the mine and other companies like it operating in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming that are supplying the coal that’s generating 20 percent of the electricity we consume on a daily basis.
We need those trains coming ’round the bend, which means that we should be paying attention to the railroad more often than when a strike is threatened. A life powered by affordable reliable energy requires trains, coal, and the many American workers who produce it.